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Art and Images in Psychiatry
August 2009

The Yellow Cow

Author Affiliations


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66(8):809-810. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.108

I am trying to intensify my feeling for the organic rhythm of all things, to achieve a pantheistic empathy with the throbbing and racing of the blood in nature, in trees, in animals, in the air . . . . —Franz Marc to Reinhart Piper, December 19101(p38)

The earliest representations of animals are found in cave art from the Paleolithic period, at least 20 000 years ago. Vividly realistic animals are shown in hunting scenes or as animal carvings. Their meaning is lost in antiquity, but it is commonly believed that the artists were illustrating hunting rituals and even shamanistic practices. In antiquity, animals were believed to have souls, but with the advent of Christianity these beliefs changed. Egyptian gods frequently had the heads of animals, as did the ancient Minotaur and other chimeras. There were fantastic medieval bestiaries; however, throughout history animals, most often, are depicted realistically.

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